Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging exams using X-rays and other modalities to produce images of bones, organs, tissues and vessels. Also known as radiographers or “rad techs”, these professionals are responsible for properly positioning patients and equipment to ensure the best quality diagnostic image is produced with minimal radiation exposure. “Accuracy is important,” says Georgia Blobaum, imaging center director. “You have to want to continuously learn – learn about your patients, learn about the diseases, learn about the projections and views,” to ensure quality images for the physician who will interpret the results. Radiologic technologists often specialize in second certification modalities, such as mammography, CT (computerized tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or bone densitometry. “Radiology is such a diverse career field,” states Blobaum. “You can become multi-certified, which can make the tech more marketable, and also prepares someone to become a general technologist in a small rural hospital where they need all of those types of skill sets.” Individuals certified as radiologic technologists can also go on to specialize in sonography, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, or interventional radiology with an additional year of education and training.
- Diagnostic imaging centers
- Physician offices
- Outpatient care centers
Because radiologic technologists are on their feet for long periods and may lift or turn disabled patients, physical stamina is important. Radiation safety procedures must be strictly followed to protect themselves, patients and co-workers. All technologists wear safety badges that monitor radiation levels in the work area. Detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose. The work schedule is typically a 40-hour week, but may include weekend or on-call hours depending on the type of facility where one is employed.
Employment of radiologic technologists is expected to increase by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all other occupations. Those with additional certifications – such as CT, MRI or mammography – will have the best employment opportunities. Increased demand for diagnostic imaging will stem from the growing elderly population, who experience a higher incidence of illness and injury.
- Ability to work with a variety of people
- Good communication skills
- Ability to learn principles and techniques of radiologic technology
- Ability to handle a variety of activities, keep accurate records, make judgments based on data, and work within precise standards of measurement
- Good eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, space and form perception, and ability to see differences in objects
- Good numerical skills
- Good mechanical aptitude
Educational programs can be certificate, associate degree or bachelor degree programs. These programs provide both classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physiology, patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology and pathology.
Most states require licensure and state requirements vary. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers certification, which first requires completing an accredited radiologic program and then passing the certification exam. Most employers require certification and it is considered the professional standard.
Programs in Nebraska
- Alegent Health/Immanuel Medical Center – Omaha (Certificate)
- Chadron State College – Chadron (Bachelor’s)
- Clarkson College – Omaha (Certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s)
- Hastings College – Hastings (Bachelor’s)
- Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital – Hastings (Certificate)
- Nebraska Methodist College – Omaha (Associate, Bachelor’s)
- Regional West Medical Center – Scottsbluff (Certificate)
- Southeast Community College – Lincoln (Associate)
- University of Nebraska – Kearney (Bachelor’s)
- University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha (Bachelor’s)
- Western Nebraska Community College – Scottsbluff (Associate)
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Other careers that involve using sophisticated equipment to help physicians, dentists and other health practitioners:
- Cardiac or vascular sonographer
- Diagnostic sonographer
- Invasive cardiovascular technologist
- Nuclear medicine technologist
- Radiation therapist
For information on careers in radiologic technology:
For a current list of accredited programs in radiography:
For certification information, contact:
Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Radiologic Technologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov